Fantastic night, albeit tinged with some expected sadness, over the early passing of loving husband and father, truly great friend and mentor on all things wine and food, Tom Low.
Tom's wife, Toi and daughter's, Adelle and Clare joined my family and the remnants of my original tasting group, with notable absent original member, Bruce, whose mother suffered a stroke earlier in the day. All our thoughts are with Jean and family for a speedy and full recovery. Michael Chin (now living in Darwin) made the long trip down to join us.
Orlando Steingarten Riesling 2002 - Outstanding varietal aromatic definition, although a little toasty on the palate for the age. Otherwise about as good as it gets. 92
Marc Bredif Vouvray 1985 - Amazingly fresh and lively, very apply and acid to burn. Will live for decades. Initial sulphur and cheesiness blew off pretty quickly - what evolved thereafter looked extremely good indeed. 90
Domaine Colin-Lequin Chassagne-Monrachet "Les Vergers" 1998 - One of the surprise packets of the evening - brimming with complexity, just fantastic nuance and structure, very youthful with the uncanny ability of combining rich, succulent fruit and gorgeous oak treatment with a steely minerality that permeated through the wine - quite brilliant. 93
Francois Raveneau Chablis 1er Cru "Montee de Tonnerre" 2000 - unfortunately served after the Chassagne. Typically flinty, steely with terrific acid cut. A keeper. 91
Trimbach Cuvee Frederic Emile Riesling VT 1990 - less developed than the last bottle opened recently (and perhaps just a little less exciting) with decidedly more freshness and sweetness paticularly on the mid-palate. Remarkably youthful in colour and nuance, finishing almost bone dry. 93
Jean Grivot Vosne-Romanee Grand Cru Richebourg 1987 - level 3cm from cork - Not a great year in Burgundy, but compared to the disjointed, albeit seemingly more youthful, 1988 I tried in Sydney a few weeks back, this wine delivered the goods, although, after a good half hour in the glass, started to dry out a tad on the finish. Otherwise, sublime gamey/earthy/mushroomy aromatics with a strong spine of sappy cherry and plum. Powerful, integrated palated, fully mature and quite thrilling apart from the touch of senility mentioned above. 90
Frederic Esmonin Gevrey-Chambertin Grand Cru Clos-de-Beze 1996 - very impressive colour; wonderfully pure, hedonistic nose of black fruits, earthy pinot sap and spicy, savoury oak with hints of mushroom and game pie followed by an authoritative palate crammed with mouth-filling extract, a fair dollop of integrated new wood and some seriously good grape tannins on a long, firm finish. Just needs another 3-5 years for the grip to settle a tad and the equation should be perfectly balanced. Looked quite a few notches above the Grivot. 93
Ch. Malescot (Margaux) 1961 - WOTN - from Tom's cellar and generously brought by his family. Mid-shoulder, black/white mouldy cork (top half), totally soaked. From the moment I removed the black sludge from the neck and gently opened this wine, captivating, enthralling aromas of violets, cassis, cedar, sweet earth and saddle leather filled the olfactories. The incredible feat of sheer perfection found on the nose is duplicated on the palate - Bordeaux at its' finest. Words cannot do this little masterpiece justice. A most moving tribute to the man we honour on this special night. Rates with the 1982 Leoville Las Cases as my equal highest pointed wine of the year. Bravo! 97
Ch. Canon (St.Emillon) 1985 - mistakenly poured instead of Toi's great looking bottle of '79 Palmer - opened with some bottle stink and barnyard but over the next hour transformed into a terrific example from this top right-bank producer. Developed beautiful sweet, earthy ripe fruit matched to melting tannins on a soft, lingering elegant finish. Ready to go. 92
Ch. Mouton-Rothschild (Pauillac) 1994 - deep, powerful, brooding wine more akin to the new world with exuburent savoury oak predominating the longer the wine was open. Luxurious and opulent with abundant cedar, tar and curranty fruit, this wine is way too young with grippy tannins dominating on a power-packed finish. Needs another 10 years. 91
Very late in the night a Penfolds Kalimna Bin 28 1996 Shiraz (very good/excellent, 89 points) made an unlikely appearance and the hard core stayers got a small taste of the luscious, raisaned Seppelt Show Muscat DP 63 (outstanding, 92 points) to polish off what was an extraordinary good night of food, wine and fellowship. I'm sure Tom would have enjoyed himself if he was there in person.
A night to remember, particularly that stunning 1961 Margaux!